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By Scott Radway

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (January 9, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---White House and U.S. Department of Justice officials will be on island this week to discuss the island's economic plight in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

Sen. Kaleo Moylan yesterday said the visit is a result of a visit to Washington, D.C. in October by a delegation of Guam senators, who went there to draw attention to the island's economic woes and to invite federal officials to come here.

"We are ecstatic to have such officials ... coming out to Guam and seeing first-hand the state of the economy," said Moylan, R-Barrigada.

Abel Guerra, of the White House Public Liaison Office, and Juan Carlos Benitez, a Department of Justice special counsel, will be on island tomorrow through Saturday, Moylan said.

Lt. Monica Richardson, the local Navy spokeswoman, said meetings have not yet been scheduled with the visiting officials, but she expects they will meet with both Navy and Air Force representatives.

Richardson added that U.S. Senate staffers are scheduled to arrive on island next week and also will meet with both military officials and local leaders.

The federal officials will discuss increases in federal assistance for health and welfare programs and immigration issues with local leaders, Moylan said. There also will be meetings with civilian and military leaders about a potential increase in military activity on Guam, he added.

Moylan made the trip to the nation's capital with Sens. Vicente Pangelinan, D-Barrigada; Eddie Calvo, R-Maite; and Speaker Tony Unpingco, R-Santa Rita.

Unpingco, who could not be reached for comment, is quoted in a press release from Moylan's office as saying he is pleased the White House accepted the invitation to visit the island.

"There is no better way for people to understand and appreciate our situation than to see it first hand," Unpingco is quoted as saying in the press release.

The release also said the Washington, D.C. officials will travel to Saipan to attend the inauguration of Juan Babauta, the new governor of the Commonwealth on the Northern Mariana Islands.

A CNMI governor's office staffer said the inauguration takes place Monday.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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